Words & Photo: Total Exposure
Standard Bank Joy of Jazz, which takes place from September 25 to 27, will mark 20 years of South African democracy with two performances by Mzanzi Golden Voices who will perform the music of the late Brenda Fassie who died 10 years ago.
A younger generation of songbirds – Asanda Bam, Brenda Mtambo, Lindiwe Maxolo, Nonfundo Xaluva, Thiwe Mbola and Wanda Baloyi – who have made a mark in the jazz, Afro-soul and gospel genres will pay homage to the undisputed queen of pop with renditions of some of her memorable compositions.
They will be accompanied by Germany’s Hessian State Jazz Youth Orchestra (Kicks & Sticks) under the direction of conductor Wolfgang Diefenbach with Tshepo Mngoma as the musical director.
Brenda Mtambo, Nonfundo Xaluva and Thiwe Mbola share the stage for the first performance on the Mbira Stage on Friday, September 26, at 19h45 with Asanda Bam, Lindiwe Maxolo and Wanda Baloyi headlining on Saturday, September 27, at 19h00 on the same stage.
The mercurial Fassie was the first musician of her generation to publicly sing about the then jailed Nelson Mandela in a stirring song titled Black President (1989), a soulful track that poignantly captures those dark days of apartheid 50 years ago when “the people’s president was taken away by security men”. She sings about the struggle hero who broke rocks but whose spirit was never broken.
In the 1980s, a period when the apartheid authorities and the recording industry made it a crime to perform songs that captured the social and political mood of the times, Fassie stood up to be counted among the few who dared to sing truth.
A song such as Too Late for Mama captured the hardships of the time in black rural communities and still rings true today. I’m a Good Black Woman affirmed Fassie’s position in a society that relegated women of her race to the lowest rung of the social ladder. Jail to Jail is a marvellous dance classic but with a powerful message about “people going to jail for the truth” while Boipatong – a duet with Tsepo ‘The Village Pope’ Tshola – is a lament for Vaal residents who were butchered in the dark of the night in 1992 by hostel dwellers believed to have been IFP members.
The new-look 2014 Standard Bank Joy of Jazz takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre from September 25 to 27 with more than 70 artists on the bill. For the first time, audiences will be able to buy a full festival pass to the four main stages – Dinaledi, Conga, Diphala and Mbira – in line with jazz festivals around the globe.
The 2014 Standard Bank Joy of Jazz is produced by T-Musicman and brought to audiences by Standard Bank in association with the Department of Arts & Culture; the City of Joburg, Gauteng Province and South African Tourism.
• Tickets for Standard Bank Joy of Jazz are available through Computicket and Shoprite Checkers. The day pass costs R750 for 16 acts on four stages while the weekend pass is R1250 for 32 acts on the four Standard Bank Joy of Jazz stages at the Sandton Convention Centre.
Tickets are available at a 15 percent discount for all Standard Bank customers subject to availability and on presentation and usage of a valid Standard Bank debit, cheque and/or credit card at a Computicket outlet. The offer is limited to two tickets per person who meet the criteria. The offer is not available for online bookings. This discount is only available until August 31, 2014.
ASANDA BAM (SA)
Since her debut release in 2010 which received national acclaim and a Metro FM Music Award nomination, this songstress from Port Elizabeth has been earning her stripes in her music career. She has travelled around Africa performing in countries such as Nigeria, Congo DRC, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique. Her music boasts of her versatility in afro-soul, jazz, rhythm and blues and sultry ballads for listeners of all ages and musical tastes. Asanda began her professional music career in 2002 when she joined Joyous Celebration. She went on to perform with acclaimed international artists including Angelique Kidjo, Corinne Bailey Rae and Jamelia from the UK.
BRENDA MTAMBO (SA)
Brenda Mtambo has done backing vocals for a host of South African musical stars including Hugh Masekela, Sibongile Khumalo, Judith Sephuma, Lira, Thandiswa Mazwai and Jonas Gwangwa. She was one of the members of the successful gospel ensemble, Joyous Celebration. Her debut album is Inspired.
LINDIWE MAXOLO (SA)
Lindiwe Maxolo is a powerful jazz vocalist. She won the 2002 Afro Vocal Category in the Old Mutual Jazz Encounters competition. Armed with a cum laude in jazz honours degree from the University of Cape Town, she’s demonstrated her diversity by performing in India, Portugal, Greece and New Orleans. Her debut jazz solo album is the acclaimed Time which was nominated for a SAMA Award.
NONFUNDO XALUVA (SA)
Nomfundo completed her Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies at the University of Cape Town, focusing on the music of Miriam Makeba. She is a freelance vocalist who has backed artists such as Judith Sephuma, Straight & Narro and Michael Bublé with the AmaGroove Youth Choir. In 2005, she attended the Norsk Jazz Forum and in 2007, she travelled to Los Angeles to perform in a production hosted by the University of Southern California, to commemorate the significance of music in the social transformation of South Africa during the apartheid era. She won the Metro FM Music Award for Best Urban Jazz Album for her debut album Kusile.
THIWE MBOLA (SA)
In 2007 Thiwe signed with 999 Music and released her debut album. Her big break came when producer Black Coffee remixed one of her songs Crazy, which became a best-selling download internationally. Thiwe is now signed to Soulistic Music which is owned by Black Coffee. Her latest album is My Truth.
WANDA BALOYI (SA)
Wanda Baloyi burst into the industry as lead singer for the all-girl group, Ghetto Luv. Wanda began her professional career while still in high school in Johannesburg. After leaving the hugely popular all-girl group Ghetto Luv in 2001, she went on to collaborate with Thembi Seete from the well-known group Boom Shaka on a track called Sure Ntombazana for the hit series Yizi Yizo 2 sound track CD. She was then offered an opportunity to record her first solo project Voices in 2003 produced by SAMA Award winner, guitar maestro Jimmy Dludlu. The resulting Voices landed her a KORA Award for Best African Arrangement 2004 along with two SAMA nominations and a Channel O music video nomination 2005 and 2006. Wanda has had the opportunity to work with and share stages with many great musicians and bands such as Jimmy Dludlu (with whom was invited to perform at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz concert Jo’burg as well as Cape Town 2003, as well as the Jazzathon 2004), M Connection, The Moreira Project, Straight and Narrow, Loading Zone, Hugh Masekela, Mama Miriam Makeba, Sibongile Khumalo, Themba Mkhize, Mark Fransman, Jaco Maria and many others.
KICKS AND STICKS & WOLFGANG DIEFENBACH (GERMANY)
Wolfgang Diefenbach is the founder and artistic director of the Hessian State Youth Jazz Orchestra also known as Kicks & Sticks which offers talented young musicians the opportunity of a professional big band training. More than 1000 young musicians have played in the orchestra since it was founded in 1985. Kicks & Sticks is an important part of the German cultural landscape and is considered to be one of Europe’s best youth jazz orchestras. The orchestra plays in the traditional big band instrumentation with a brass section consisting of five trumpets, four trombones and five saxophones as well as a rhythm group with four to five musicians. In addition to mainstream standard titles from Duke Ellington and Count Basie the ensemble mainly studies titles which have been composed or arranged exclusively for the orchestra. Apart from swing, they also provide a virtuoso expedition through South America and demonstrate the incredible scape of Latin-American jazz music from Brazil over Cuba up to New York’s Latino scene. An intoxicating mixture of different Latin-American rhythms offers a coherent conception ranging from sensible samba ballads to cool Latin jazz.
TSHEPO MNGOMA (SA - MUSICAL DIRECTOR)
Tshepo Mngoma graduated from the University of Cape Town in 2002 obtaining a BMus in jazz studies majoring in jazz violin. He has worked as a freelance musician and has been invited to guest with top South African musicians and groups such as Jimmy Dludlu, Tlale Makhene, Joyous Celebration 6, 7 and 8, Watershed, Hugh Masekela and Sibongile Khumalo. Mngoma is a member of Mostwako String Quartet which performs classical, African folk songs and jazz.